Rebranding Richmond, But For Whom? Local Youth Weigh In


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First Person, Various Authors | Image via Mayor Tom Butt

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 2015 Mayor Tom Butt initiated a full-scale branding and marketing study for the City of Richmond.

According to Mayor Butt, the goal of the study was “to make sure that the way we represent ourselves as a City is reflective of our community and that we establish an image and improved reputation with our residents, neighbors, businesses and visitors.”

After raising over $100,000 in donations, the Mayor’s Office contracted Nashville based, North Star Destination Strategies, to lead the rebranding effort.

Last year, the mayor’s office, North Star and a focus group of locals developed a new tagline to represent the city: Richmond, California. Bay Front. Home Front. Out Front.

The city’s current motto is The City of Pride and Purpose.

After being directed to focus on Richmond’s image as a waterfront city,

Northstar this month, presented a collection of new proposed logos for the City of Richmond. Mayor Butt has asked for feedback from the public on the logos.

Richmond Pulse youth reporters gave their critique of the proposed logos and tagline as well their own suggestions for rebranding Richmond.


‘This new motto will leave us working-class families unseen’

We grew up with the slogan, “Richmond is the city of pride and purpose.” We work hard in school to find our purpose in life and we take pride in what we do. Underneath the violence in Richmond, there are hard working people that struggle daily to provide for their families.

Richmond is also home of Rosie the Riveter and we show pride in that. We had the Black Panther party here and we showed our purpose through them fighting for equal rights. Richmond is full of dreamers and hard workers. This is why I am proud to say that I come from Richmond, the city of pride and purpose.

Rebranding Richmond would not change us as a community, but [it would] increase the population of people who are wealthy. This will leave us, who are working class families or families in poverty, unseen.

-Maryalexis Gutierrez, 16

‘We do not need a rebranding’

I honestly think we do not need a rebranding of our motto. The city should stay “The city of pride and purpose” for our youngsters to have something to live up to. As a child, I didn’t quite understand the motto … but I grew to love it because after graduating from UC Berkeley, I found that statement to be very true. I am very proud to be from Richmond and I find that our community and all the people within the community have so much potential. I absolutely love my city and would not prefer to be in any other place.

-Mitzi Perez, 22

‘The new slogan is for outsiders’

Ehhh, personally I think our current slogan is better. “The city of pride and purpose”… it has a really encouraging vibe to it in my opinion, and well, as a city, Richmond is constantly growing. I remember when it was ranked #6 on the most dangerous cities in the U.S. Now, it doesn’t even fall close. As a result, people around the area are starting to feel better about being raised here, we really are starting to develop pride in our city, we’re starting to find a purpose in life and not resort to violence. I, for one, think that the city’s slogan is for the people living in the city. The new one just sounds like it’s for outsiders.

-Ronvel Sharper, 17

‘An AstroTurf label’

I understand Richmond has a stigma as well as a persona placed on us. Rebranding is an amazing idea. Change is good but I don’t agree with the way people are going about rebranding Richmond. I feel “Bay front, home front, out front” does not describe my community. [The logo] looks like an AstroTurf type of label that has no powerful message or raw meaning behind it. Richmond residents have so much more fire and edge to them. I am forever a resident of a city where pride and purpose is prioritized because it’s the truth… and not because it sells.

-Anure McGee, 19

‘A whitewashed view from Point Richmond’

Out of all of the logos, I like 11 and 12 but it doesn’t completely represent Richmond. I’ve lived in Richmond my entire life and we have more to offer than just beautiful scenery. My city represents more than just a ship, birds, water and a bridge. We represent unity, diversity, creativity and community. We live up to its phrase, “ The city of pride and purpose.”

I honestly feel that the logos are whitewashed and are views from the mayor, not the people of Richmond. Mayor Tom Butt lives in Point Richmond, [which is] majority white and wealthy. Butt is able to view the San Rafael Bridge from his home. But the people of Richmond, like myself, don’t have the same views and experiences like he does. Butt sees water and all green. I see concrete and all gray.

Butt should have had contacted RYSE Center, a nonprofit organization located in the heart of Richmond, on help with creating a logo instead of first contacting NorthStar Destination Strategies, since there’s a lot of brilliant and creative artists that go there almost every day. It’s time for the prideful youth of color and the people of real Richmond to be heard from because we all have a purpose.

-Marisol Lara, 17

‘An opportunity for gentrifiers to sweep in’

The word “rebranding” gives me an uneasy feeling right off the bat. I understand the ideal thought of uplifting Richmond and shining the light on our city, but I feel this is an opportunity for gentrifiers to sweep [in] here like they did to Oakland and San Francisco. I personally love our original brand and think we should stick with it. “The City of Pride and Purpose” represents who we are as a community and the growth we have achieved over time. Our pride is Richmond and our purpose is to keep the original beauty of the people and the history alive and well.

-Isabella Zizi, 22



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